Dariad looked away from Alaryia. Heâ€™d never thought he would even consider trusting a goblin, but sheâ€™d been so helpful and right now her offer was very tempting indeed. But… She was still a goblin and he couldnâ€™t discount the possibility that she was only being helpful to get him to trust her.
â€œIâ€™m sorry,â€ he said after a moment. â€œI like you well enough, ambassador, but I canâ€™t justify allowing you that much. My people wouldnâ€™t stand for it.â€
â€œI see.â€ Amusement threaded through her tone. â€œYes, I suppose they wouldnâ€™t like it if you let us bring weapons into the city â€“ except to sell them, of course. Speakers will always want our weapons.â€ She put down her goblet, picked up a ball from a basket by her chair and began playing with it idly. â€œYour paranoia is amusing sometimes.â€ The ball seemed to to soften and flatten between her hands as she spoke. Dariad started as he realised that it was a ball of Mabain which had been solidified ready to be worked. â€œBut never mind your people; we both know you could bring them around if you wanted to.â€ She spun the softened Mabain into a long sausage shape. â€œThe problem is you still donâ€™t trust me. Not that I blame you. Your people have no reason to trust mine and this could all be an elaborate ruse on my part, I suppose.â€
Dariad felt himself flush slightly. â€œI wouldnâ€™t have put it quite that bluntly.â€ He watched as she began flattening and smoothing the now glowing Mabain. She was watching him intently as she worked.
â€œNo, youâ€™re too diplomatic for that. You donâ€™t feel right telling someone who saved your life that you donâ€™t trust them.â€ She chuckled as he looked away and swallowed guiltily. â€œDonâ€™t feel bad, Dariad. I told you a power vacuum in Caerdu would be inconvenient for me right now, so its not like I didnâ€™t have an ulterior motive for saving you. I would have done it anyway, but you canâ€™t know for sure Iâ€™m telling the truth about that.â€ Her fingers never stopped their deft manipulation of whatever she was making as she spoke.
â€œSomething like that,â€ he conceded.
â€œIndeed.” He smile was almost a smirk. â€œBut since Iâ€™m not likely to change your mind, letâ€™s talk about something else. How is the Light Warrior doing? I havenâ€™t had time to check on her today.â€
Dariad stared at her for a moment, caught off guard by the sudden shift in topic. â€œSheâ€™s fine actually. Though upset at some recent news…â€ he trailed off as she looked at him curiously and he found himself considering whether to tell her about the Water Warrior.
â€œHmm… and you canâ€™t decide if you should tell me about it or not.â€ She parted her hands and the Mabain floated up between them and started to glow too brightly for him to look at. He stared at one of the tapestries on the wall instead and wondered how she was doing it – making that much light shouldnâ€™t be possible in a dark affinity zone.
It took him a moment to realise that the tapestry was one of the ones his mother had commissioned. It showed the final battle in the siege of Caerdu in a series of scenes. He picked out the various warriors taking out the dragons behind the seige, and of course the speakers from the city attacking the dragonsâ€™ goblin foot soldiers in the aftermath. It left a lot out, of course. He barely remembered the siege, but he did remember the gnawing hunger because they couldnâ€™t get food inside, and his fatherâ€™s rage when they realised the whole thing had been a feint to keep the Warriors and their Heart Friends pinned down while the Black and Yellow dragons carried out their real plan.
â€œI think your chatelaine was making a point putting that in here.â€ Alaryia sounded amused again. â€œRemember we can kill you, or some such. Sheâ€™s young enough not to know the full story and be proud of that part of your history, isnâ€™t she? You can look back now. Iâ€™ve finished,â€ she continued without waiting for him to reply.
â€œBrita doesnâ€™t like-â€ He broke off as he looked back and saw a beautiful slender sword in her hands and his mouth dropped open. She smiled at his shock and offered him the hilt.
â€œTake it, itâ€™s for you. A small token of my esteem and the first fruits of our deal.â€ She gave him another one-sided smile as he closed one shaking hand around the hilt. Heâ€˜d never realised that they manipulated Mabain so directly. She cocked her head at his reaction. â€œOf course itâ€™s also a reminder that if we wanted weapons here weâ€™d have them before you had a chance to react. Go wherever it is you need to, Dariad. Iâ€™ll make sure that no one eats your people while youâ€™re gone, I promise. Whether you want me to or not.â€